US House Testimony

US House Testimony

Donna Cline 22 de Julio, 2013
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U.S. House Members Consider the African “Resource Curse”: Tutu Alicante Provided Testimony at House Subcommittee Hearing

On Thursday, July 18, 2013, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations held a hearing centered around the question, “Is There an African Resource Curse?”  Tutu Alicante, Executive Director of EG Justice, was one of four panelists invited to testify before the Subcommittee.  He spoke about Equatorial Guinea, and how the country’s discovery of oil exacerbated the poor governance and corruption that existed before its discovery.

Congressman Chris Smith (NJ), Chairman of the Subcommittee, highlighted in his opening remarksthe corruption, inequality, and human rights violations that make Equatorial Guinea a stark example of the resource curse in Africa.

In his testimony, Mr. Alicante spoke about the initial discovery of oil in Equatorial Guinea and secrecy surrounding the production negotiations and contracts.   The existing lack of transparency inside the country contributed greatly to the problem.  From the beginning, Equatoguineans – other than the ruling family and political elite – were cut off from receiving information about how their country’s natural resource could truly transform both their economy and living conditions.  Government officials seized the opportunity to line their pockets with oil revenues, and without transparency to provide oversight, they have taken millions of dollars that should have been invested in the country.  As a result, Equatorial Guinea has the highest level of per capita income in sub-Saharan Africa, but ranks amongst the lowest countries in the world for human development.  The country is indeed an example of the devastating results that can be caused by the “resource curse.”

Mr. Alicante stressed the issue is relevant to the U.S. as several American oil companies operate in Equatorial Guinea.  Furthermore, U.S. legislation can help prevent the further squandering of Equatorial Guinea’s natural resources – Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Actwill apply to those companies operating in Equatorial Guinea, and can bring transparency to the country’s oil industry.  Members of the Subcommittee expressed interest in the current state of Section 1504, and asked for recommendations from the panel about what Congress can do as a fallback.

Mr. Alicante recommended that the U.S. prioritize and help create an environment of transparency inside Equatorial Guinea through its foreign policy.  Good governance in Equatorial Guinea is critical before transparency can be effective.  Mr. Alicante noted that President Obiang knows his business – the country’s oil – is important to the U.S., providing the opportunity to take action. 

Ranking Member, Congresswoman Karen Bass responded to Mr. Alicante’s recommendations by noting the U.S. celebrates other countries for holding their governments accountable, but does not hold U.S. companies accountable for behaving badly.  She also noted Dodd-Frank is great, but there is clearly more that can be done. 

A copy of Mr. Alicante’s statement given to the Subcommittee can be accessed online at:  http://www.egjustice.org/publications/hearing-african-resource-curse-submission-7-18-13

The hearing is available in its entirety on YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQevwzz70ew&feature=player_embedded

For more information, please contact:

In Tampa, Florida, for EG Justice, Tutu Alicante (English, French, Spanish): +1-615-479-0207 (mobile); or tutu@egjustice.org.

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